Make Yogurt in a Cooler

After having several yogurt makers ruin our yogurt-making attempts, I was thrilled to discover this method! I just might get a cooler exclusively for yogurt making! We use yogurt for smoothies, veggie dip and yogurt cheese. Here’s how to do it.

What You’ll Need

  • Milk (we use raw, whole milk)
  • Yogurt culture
  • Glass jars with lids
  • Cooler (a small one is best, unless you’re making several gallons of yogurt πŸ™‚ )
  • Pot to heat the milk in
  • Thermometer (I use digital- it’s usually more accurate)
  • Whisk

What To Do

  1. Pour the milk into the pan and start heating it. Stir occasionally until the temperature reaches 110 degrees.
  2. While the milk heats, put your culture into a glass measuring cup and put warm/hot water (115 degrees) into the cooler until it’s about 3 to 4 inches deep.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and ladle some of the milk into the measuring cup, whisking to mix in the culture.
  4. Once the cup is mostly full, slowly pour the milk with culture into the pot, whisking to thoroughly mix.
  5. Ladle the milk into the jars and put the lids on, placing each jar into the cooler as you go.
  6. Once the jars are all in the cooler, check the water temperature and add more water. What you want to do is fill the cooler until the water level is about 2 inches below the jar lids. Be sure to use the right temperature water to end up with the water in the cooler at the proper incubation temp. Most yogurts like the temperature to be between 95 and 110. My culture works best between 105 and 110, so I got the water just above the top number, 110.
  7. Close the lid and wrap up the cooler with a towel. Leave it for about six hours.
  8. Check the water temp and add a few more cups of hot water if it’s at or below the minimum temp for your culture. Rewrap the cooler and wait a couple more hours.
  9. To check to see if your yogurt is done, pull out a jar and gently tip it to the side a bit. If the milk looks somewhat thickened, stick the jars in the fridge and let them chill for at least six hours. If it’s still as thin as normal milk, make sure the water temp is good and give it a few more hours. The starter culture that I used cultured in 8 hours and is nice and thick, but some cultures can take up to 24 hours.

It may look like a lot, but it really was easy and the yogurt is perfect! Once you know how long your particular culture needs to do it’s thing, it’s a snap work yogurt making into your day.

Do you make your own yogurt? What’s your favorite method?

21 thoughts on “Make Yogurt in a Cooler

    • Great idea, Faith! My crockpot isn’t very reliable about temperature, but the one I use to have probably would have worked really well for that. Thanks so much for the idea!

  1. Brenda Haskin says:

    Over 35 years ago a friend of mine taught me to make yogurt (could not buy it in the grocery stores then) with mason jars and a heating pad on low in a cardboard box. I think back on the fact that we really did it out of necessity. Still love the frugality of it and the control of my ingredients but I sure could buy in the store these days!!!! Wish I could find this friend today……

    • I love that things that used to be done out of necessity are now starting to be done by choice! So many things have been lost through the generations, so I’m always excited to learn and pass on anything “old-fashioned”! πŸ™‚ I hope you’re able to find your friend… maybe google their name or check facebook?

    • That sounds delicious! I guess I’ll have to get a better crockpot and try that method. The crockpot we have is way too finicky for yogurt. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

  2. I love this, I have been looking around at different recipes to try. I am a newbie to this, but can not wait to make my own.

    Followed you here from Jill’s remedies.

  3. Hi Justyn, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (, and I’m visiting from the Barn Hop.

    I’ve wanted to make yogurt (we get whole, raw milk, too) but have been a bit intimidated. This looks like a great tutorial.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. I hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

    • Thanks so much for the comment, Anne! I have just discovered an even easier way to make yogurt and it’s fabulous! My girls eat it plain and love it. I’ll be posting my new method soon, so keep an eye out for it. πŸ™‚

      I’ve been over to visit a couple of times, but my internet wasn’t working and I kept getting kicked off. I’ll be coming over to explore again now that I have things working! πŸ™‚

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